Getting to Know the Founders of Alder New York

Christina Najjar | August 11, 2019 | Fashion

Alder New York is what you need in you bathroom, stat. The chic genderless skincare and haircare line is based out of Brooklyn and is already taking the beauty world by storm. The brand’s founders Nina Zilka and David J. Krause are longtime best friends who've worked in the beauty and design industry together for the past 11 years. Zilka and Krause both wanted smarter personal care products: legitimately clean products that were as sleek and cool as they were effective. Everything Alder New York makes is vegan and cruelty-free, locally manufactured and ethically made.

Zilka and Krause began their collaborative partnership over a decade ago, launching their first label while they were both students at Pratt University. In 2016, a passion for wellness led them to create Alder New York, where they bring their design sensibility and attention to detail to the line of uncomplicated, high performing personal care essentials. From travel-friendly sizes to synergistic formulas, everything they make is designed to be efficient and, above all, enjoyable.


The lineup currently features 11 hair and skincare products, including a collection of gorgeous black obsidian tools. All of Alder's formulas use the best herbalist-beloved extracts and clean, dermatologist-approved ingredients.

What was the original inspiration behind Alder?
NINA ZILKA / DAVID KRAUSE: David and I both come from a fashion design background and have worked together in fashion for over a decade. While we were still designing clothing, I started becoming very interested in clean personal care. This was in 2011, when there was just starting to be more consumer awareness around the lack of FDA regulation in cosmetics and the harmful chemicals frequently being used. As a hobby, after doing a bit of research I started making my own dry shampoo which took on a life of its own, first my roommate wanted some, then her mom, then her mom’s friends and then David suggested we design a bottle for it and sell it on our website alongside our clothes for the holidays. This was when American-made indie brands were very much in vogue and the dry shampoo became something of a cult product. We eventually added a few additional apothecary items, including lip balms and hand salves, which also became really popular.

In 2015, David and I decided to close our clothing line. We’d become much more passionate about the apothecary. We took a year to think about what our personal care line would look like if we were to design it with the intention of creating it from the start. We saw a hole for truly clean skincare and haircare products that were genderless and vegan and sleekly designed with the attention to detail we’d honed in fashion. So in 2016 after a year of designing the line and formulating many iterations of the products in a lab until they were perfect, we launched Alder New York.

What's been the most rewarding part of growing your brand?
NZ/DK: The most rewarding part of growing our brand is seeing how truly clean and effective skincare products can help our customers’ skin so quickly. We had one customer write that she’d spent years on dermatologist visits and treatments for her adult acne and within two months of using Alder products her skin cleared up. It’s so rewarding to hear the effects our products have.


Why was it important to you that the line was genderless?
NZ/DK: It was important to us because good design is genderless and our products are about high design. Skin is skin and it makes no difference how you identify: you want products that work and make you look great.

What are some of your favorite New York City spots?
NZ/DK: We love the Freehand for taking meetings and grabbing a drink. Jajaja makes the absolute best vegan Mexican food in the city. Nina loves to get her nails done at Paintbox, they have super sophisticated designs and colors on rotation. David likes to get his haircut at Fellow Barber (try their Benjamin Button Facial which uses Alder New York’s face masks!) and while he’s there he always picks up an iced coffee at Saturdays next door to drink in their backyard. Our favorite dinner is pizza at Double Zero with a glass of wine. And Coming Soon is our spot for gifts and chic home decor.

What are you looking forward to in the second half of the year?
NZ/DK: We like the buzz and excitement of the second half of the year from both a business perspective and a personal perspective. It’s an exciting time; we have some incredible new products about to launch and we love the bustle that takes over the city once everyone gets back into their groove in September after their summers away.

Tags: beauty

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